If you have been traveling or staying up later than usual working, your sleep clock may be off schedule. Jetlag and late nights can throw your whole internal clock out of whack. You’re tired when you should be awake or you’re sleepy when it’s time to get up.
To reboot your system and uncross your sleep wires, there are a few tricks you can do to get you back up to speed.
Top Tips For Getting The Sleep Train Back On Track
From gradually changing your bedtime to cutting off-screen time, there are a couple of ways you can reset your internal clock and get your sleep train back on track.
1. Gradually Move Your Bedtime
If you’re wondering how to fix jetlag or how to move your bedtime this tip is particularly helpful. If you’re used to going to bed at 3:00 from being in a different part of the world, it will be hard to go to bed at your normal time on the first night back. Gradually moving your bedtime will make the transition easier. By forcing yourself to stay up a little longer or going to bed a little earlier you can beat the jet lag and get back on track. Do this slowly over a couple of nights so you aren’t waking up too early or sleeping too late.
If you just want to go to bed earlier in general or if you’ve been staying up late for one reason or another, you can gradually move up your bedtime night by night. If 10:00 is your ideal bedtime, start by going to sleep at 9:00 on the first night. You can then move it up to 9:30 and so on. This will help you wake up earlier and be more tired earlier in the night.
There are additional tips below on how to get yourself mentally ready for bed and to help make sure your internal clock is on the schedule you want it to be when you’re ready for some shut-eye.
2. Exercise At Least 3 Hours Before Bed
Exercise is a great way to get your endorphins and adrenaline going. It’s also a great stress reliever and mood booster. After a good run or group class, you’ll feel energized and good about yourself. A long walk or yoga class can do wonders for your overall mood and health. You can take the time for meditation and reflecting on your day.
One thing to keep in mind is although exercise will tire you out, it will also give you an energy boost. Your adrenaline will be higher after physical activity and it will take a little bit of time before you can wind down.
To give yourself enough time to cool off and recover, try to end your exercise around 3-hours before bed. This will give you enough time for your adrenaline levels to lower and for you to come down from your natural energy high.
When you exercise to close to bedtime you might find yourself not tired enough for sleep or too restless to relax.
Reading is a great way to wind down and relax. When you’re lying in bed, cuddled up with a book, your body will start to relax and your mind will wander from the troubles of your day.
Reading can be a good way to push up your bedtime. If you’re trying to get to bed sooner, you can grab a book an hour before you’d like to be asleep and make yourself comfortable. After you’ve been reading for a bit, you’ll start to feel drowsy and you should drift off to sleep sooner.
If you’d like to push your bedtime back a bit and stay up later, reading is a much better way to pass the time than using a screen or device. You’ll still be relaxing, and you won’t be overstimulated by a screen or work email.
If you’re trying to stay on schedule, don’t choose a book that is too thrilling or gripping. If you pick a book that you just can’t put down, you might find yourself staying up too late flipping pages.
4. Shut Off Screen Time
When you’re trying to stay on a sleep schedule, there’s nothing that can throw you off track quite like a TV or device screen. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole while watching a good show or playing an addicting game on your phone.
Screens can send signals to your brain that cause you to become overstimulated and too wired for sleep. Watching an addicting show will keep you up way past your desired bedtime and you’ll wake up feeling unrested and out of sorts.
Your phone can be even worse than a TV. If you’re constantly staying plugged into work email on your phone, it can not only be hard to stop working, it can still be hard to shut down hours later. Your mind will keep wandering to your to-do list or that last email you read.
5. Decompress From The Day Earlier In The Night
If you often find yourself staying up too late thinking about your day, you can try moving this up to an earlier time. It may seem silly to designate time to fret about your day or things you have to do but doing so will help keep you on your sleep schedule.
You can try to schedule a time that is early enough in the night to not keep you up too late. After dinner, you can make yourself a cup of calming herbal tea and get out a notebook. In the notebook, you can write out your worries or to-do list and make an action plan for the following day. After you close your notebook, vow to close your mind off of your worries as well.
If a notebook is too formal, you can also use your exercise time as a time to mentally unwind. Going on a long walk with your spouse, friend or dog can be a great way to get in some exercise and vent. You can chat about your days and bounce ideas off of them if something is bothering you. Once you get home, leave your worries at the door and start relaxing.
6. Only Use Your Bed For Sleeping
If you’re staying awake too late and it’s throwing your sleep schedule off track, think about what you’re doing in your bed before you try to sleep. Often, our bed doubles as an office, a nail salon, coupon satiation, and a movie theater.
When you use your bed as an office, it can be hard to close your computer and go to sleep on time. There’s always one last thing to do or email to send and you’ll find yourself up way past your bedtime.
It’s also tempting to turn on the TV when you get in bed. To avoid falling into a show trap, just skip the TV. Avoid using your bed for other tasks as well. Painting your nails or clipping coupons in bed will distract you from your bed’s true purpose. You want to associate your bed with a place of rest. If you’re going to stick to your bedtime schedule, keep your bed as a place to get a good night’s rest and don’t send mixed signals to your brain.
7. Be Strict And Stick To Your Schedule
The most important thing you can do when trying to fix your sleep schedule is to stick to it. Stay strong and don’t be tempted to turn on a TV. Be strict and stick to the schedule you’ve established.
If you’ve just come back from a trip and want to take a nap, don’t. A nap will cause you to stay up too late and remain off schedule. You’ll want to stay up as long as possible to make it to your desired bedtime. Otherwise, you’ll end up staying up too late and sleeping in.
The same goes for sleeping in. Get up at the same time every day until your body is back on track. Even on weekends, you should try to get up at the same time every day. Sleeping in on weekends will make it harder to get back on track on Monday.
There are several reasons why our sleep schedules get off track. From traveling to busy days at work, it can be hard to get back into your usual sleep routine.
The most important thing you can do is stay consistent. If you strive to go to bed at the same time every night, you’ll constantly wake up at the same time as well. Whether it’s a weeknight or a weekend if you’re trying to get your sleep schedule back on track, stay consistent.
Another important thing to remember is that you need to be patient with yourself. Allow yourself a few days to get back in the swing of things and try to gradually move your sleep time earlier or later.